Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Apple may still have legs, but who's legs are they?

David RD Gratton: Apple may still have legs: "I believe Malcolm Gladwell would say that Powerbook, in the hands of a business connector like Darcy, is going to be highly infectious to other business people."

I think apple has a lot of potential. I wouldn't invest in apple however because of one huge problem. As I predicted before, I still think, when Steve Jobs dies (or retires) Apple will die with him. The company will not survive the transition to the next CEO.

Now I could be surprised. Steve may be spending his time building an organization that aligns with the values that made Apple successful in the first place. Or, he may just be spending all his time criticising the powerbook and ipod design teams efforts until they produce the devices he envisions.

Here's the thing I've observed about Steve Jobs. His ego requires constant inflation, otherwise it goes flat. My hypothesis is that Steve is incapable of building an organization that would survive after he left because that would be a huge blow to his ego. Now things may have changed since Steve's brush with mortality. Hopefully he's begun to realize that Apple computers is more important than him, and it should be strengthened to withstand his eventual retirement. Here's the rub though, without that information, I wouldn't invest in Apple computers on any kind of long time line. Without changing how the company works, Apple, as a successful company, will end sometime in the next 20 years.


David Gratton said...

You make a good point. It mirrors what Jim Collins concluded about leadership in his book Good to Great. Steve Jobs - as a number of books on him would lead us to believe - would be classed as a level 1 CEO - the brilliant egotistical individual. Great enduring companies need a level 5 CEO - the modest, fanatically driven team builder.

Gary Owen said...

I just finished that chapter in good to great. (I picked up both books at the same time)

It was good to read some research supported business theory that supported this "gut feeling" I've had about how Steve Jobs runs Apple. (How Steve runs apple is all conjecture on my part, in reality he could be a great leader, but he doesn't appear to be one from the outside)